How many times have you been in a parking lot or at a trailhead and heard these words?
“I need a jump my car is dead!” or “can you pull my car out? I’m just a little stuck.”
I never wanted to be the person stuck without help so I have created robust emergency kits to keep in every one of my vehicles. These kits have helped me more times than I can count! I have jumped 20+ cars, changed 10+ tires, and even diagnosed a bad battery terminal on the side of the road. I love helping people so I usually stop if I see someone who looks like they are having car troubles. If that’s not for you having the emergency kit can help you get yourself out of a sticky situation. This brings me to the items I carry with me:
1. Jumper Cables
These are a car essential item. If you ever have a dead battery or leave your dome light on in the office parking lot you’ll be able to rescue yourself with the help of any other car.
2. Tire Pump & Emergency Plugs
Sometimes you get a nail in your spare tire (don’t ask me how I know). A plug can save you a long wait for a tow and get you into town for a proper patch. The tire pump can also help you air up after letting air out of your tires for additional traction.
3. Socket Set & Basic Tools
Whether you need a screwdriver to tighten a hinge on your friends house door or need to replace an alternator in an auto parts store parking lot, the basic tool set will make sure you can turn a bolt or two when needed.
4. Tow Strap
The tow strap is a mountain town essential! I have pulled a few people out of snow banks and even used it on my own car. Just this last winter I was driving up to Sky Tavern to plow the lot and drive the snow cat when I got stuck. My wife’s Subaru didn’t have the ground clearance to make it through the unplowed lot without getting stuck. I plowed the lot, then used the strap and shop truck to pull out the car. It is a great item to carry with you if you off road or drive in the snow.
5. Tire Chains
These are a good backup if you end up driving through an icy mountain pass. If you don’t have studded snow tires these can really help you stay safe and in control. (Important note: If you are setting up a car kit for a loved one… make sure they they know how to put on the chains too!)
6. Change of Clothes
I keep extra clothes and a jacket in the car to use whenever I need it. I have used it when I fell in a pond and needed to be dry and warm. I have also used it at a dinner party when I spilled food on myself.
7. Sturdy Gloves
These will be your friend if you need to put the chains on your car or change a tire. They can also protect your hands from the cold in an emergency situation.
8. Ratchet Straps
There are a million uses for straps from hauling lumber to strapping down a bike. These are relatively cheap and can be found at any hardware store or online. You can never have too many straps, but I recommend carrying four.
9. Can of Fix a Flat
This is a last resort item. Fix a Flat is a can of compressed air and tire sealant. It will pump up your tire and seal any small to medium holes. The tire shop will hate you for using it, but if you can’t get the spare or plug to work this is your only option besides a tow.
10. Tow Hitch
I like to carry a tri-ball hitch that has all 3 ball sizes. This can come in handy if you need to tow a trailer. You never know what kind of day you will have when you’re Facebook marketplace hunting!
There you have it! 10 items you should keep in your car. I like to put a bucket or crate in my trunk to contain all the items in one place (you really don’t want that can of Fix a Flat going off like a sticky bomb in your trunk). This whole kit can be put together for $100 at Harbor Freight Tools and will serve you for years to come. You will never be sorry for being prepared.
Until next time,